Skip to content

Women's Six Nations 2023: Zoe Aldcroft replaces Sarah Hunter as Delaney Burns makes debut for England against Italy

Marlie Packer has been named as England captain for the remainder of the Six Nations; England continue their Six Nations campaign when they face Italy at Franklin's Gardens in Northampton on Sunday, with kick-off at 3pm

Zoe Aldcroft will line up at number eight after Sarah Hunter's retirement
Image: Zoe Aldcroft will line up at No 8 after Sarah Hunter's retirement

England head coach Simon Middleton has named his 23-player Red Roses squad to take on Italy in Northampton on Sunday, with Zoe Aldcroft moving to No 8 to replace the retired Sarah Hunter.

Aldcroft will take on the vice-captain role while making the switch from lock, as Marlie Packer continues to captain the side from openside flanker for the rest of the tournament, Sadia Kabeya then retaining her place at blindside flanker.

With Aldcroft at the back of the pack, Bristol Bears lock Delaney Burns will earn her first cap on the international stage in place of the inured Poppy Cleall, Cath O'Donnell lining up alongside her at Franklin's Gardens.

An unchanged front row them completes the forwards as Mackenzie Carson, Amy Cokayne and Sarah Bern keep their places.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

England Women head coach, Simon Middleton heaped praise on captain Sarah Hunter before she played her last game for the Red Roses

Tatyana Heard comes in at inside centre to replace the injured Amber Reed and will line up alongside the unchanged Holly Aitchison at fly-half, Abby Dow, Jess Breach, and Claudia MacDonald then making up the back three.

Lagi Tuima also retains her place at outside centre with her Harlequins team-mate Lucy Packer at scrum-half and a first senior international cap could also be on the cards for Harlequins' Emily Robinson who starts on the bench.

Head coach Middleton is ready to face a "well prepared" Italy side but is ready to "put on a show".

"We're really looking forward to Sunday's game against Italy in Northampton," Middleton said.

Also See:

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

England women's rugby union head coach Simon Middleton explains why he has made the decision to step down from his role saying it was for the 'good of the programme'

"We were pleased to get our campaign up and running with a good win against Scotland last weekend which was a fitting send off for long-time captain Sarah Hunter. Marlie Packer will now take over the role for the rest of the tournament and will want to stamp her own brand of leadership on the team starting against Italy.

"Delaney Burns has impressed us immensely. Her line-out and set-piece understanding is strong and she deserves her start.

"Emily Robinson has been a prominent part of our programme for a good period. Injury meant she has had to bide her time, but she's been excellent since she's come in during the Six Nations and we look forward to seeing how she fares.

"Giovanni Raineri and his staff will have their Italy team well prepared for this Six Nations, and that was clearly reflected in last weekend's strong opening performance, when they lost 22-12 to World Cup semi-finalists France.

"We are naturally gutted to lose Poppy Cleall and Amber Reed to injury but are confident they'll return before the end of this tournament.

"We had a memorable day at Franklin's Gardens in the 2021 autumn international against New Zealand and hopefully we can put on a show."

England: 15 Abby Dow, 14 Jess Breach, 13 Lagi Tuima, 12 Tatyana Heard, 11 Claudia MacDonald, 10 Holly Aitchison, 9 Lucy Packer, 1 Mackenzie Carson, 2 Amy Cokayne, 3 Sarah Bern, 4 Cath O'Donnell, 5 Delaney Burns, 6 Sadia Kabeya, 7 Marlie Packer (capt), 8 Zoe Aldcroft (vice-captain).

Replacements: 16 Lark Davies, 17 Liz Crake, 18 Kelsey Clifford, 19 Sarah Beckett, 20 Emily Robinson, 21 Ella Wyrwas, 22 Sarah McKenna, 23 Emma Sing.

Around Sky